Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×22 “With Many Names” is certainly a high stakes finale, both for this series and for SVU. In the process of setting those high stakes, the episode takes some surprising turns, both good and bad. And it leaves us in a place that’s as hopeful as it is crushing, all while still managing to have some of the best EO content in a while somehow mixed up in all the chaos. Even for Benson and Stabler, though, the ending’s as fitting as it is decidedly not. But maybe the latter half of that is (or at least was — who knows what’ll happen if the studios don’t give the writers a fair deal) part of some kind of plan that will make sense in the future.
At least as of this moment, though, we’re looking forward to seeing what’s next — so that’s certainly a positive outcome. What doesn’t work, in any shape or form, is the amount of time wasted on a backstory for our
basement-attic-dwelling, sad white boy of a so-called mastermind. This takes the emphasis off of the real emotional core — not just EO but also what happens to Jamie — and, as we touched on just slightly with the whole montage o’ losers bit in episode 21, falls into the same trap cable news does with these types of monsters. It gives the attention-seeking losers exactly what they want, providing them with a notoriety they don’t deserve.
Now, without wasting much more time on that guy, let’s talk about our team(s).
Nothing says “finale” like gut-wrenching loss
If you’re looking for pain and angst, Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×22 definitely delivers on that front. And then some.
Losing Detective Whelan, and Brent Antonello right along with him, hurts. As a fan who got attached to a character who became such an integral part of this task force’s found family, as someone who can’t stop thinking about Danielle Moné Truitt telling us what a “sweetheart” Antonello is, or how he and Rick Gonzalez are like her “two brothers,” and even just as someone who likes great performances but feels kind of robbed by what we got here. Which, to be clear: The performances aren’t the problem; the lack of time and care given to let them really settle and breathe is. But that last bit, again, points back to the problem with way too much time being given to humanizing our disgusting perp.
In fact, on the performance side of things, it’s almost impossible to decide exactly which moment, provided by exactly whom, makes the most impact. Is it Gonzalez, as Reyes tries to convince Whelan he’ll be ok in the immediate aftermath of the shooting? What about in the moment when Reyes realizes his partner’s right — that he has to send the One™ available medic after the pure scum of the Earth, to put the case and the safety of the public ahead of saving Jamie? Or all that pain in the hospital scenes, both as Jamie asks Bobby for something he seems unwilling to give (more on that in a bit) and…after Whelan dies?
Maybe instead it’s the energy rolling off Ainsley Seiger’s body, as she’s turned away from the camera for Jet to answer that awful phone call…and we just know? Or, dear God…how about pretty much anything and everything Truitt and Christopher Meloni do as their characters respond to the news? Ayanna and Elliot don’t get a lot of time to really express what they’re feeling and sit in it, and as much as that’s a major robbery in a lot of ways, it also fits that Sergeant Bell and Detective Stabler would have to be a little bit more stoic. They’re leaders, so they have to be strong for the team. But wow, can you still feel the emotion rolling off both of them in waves.
Then again, as it’s our final chance to see him in this role, maybe the honor of “broke us the most” should go to Antonello. The very quiet, yet very loaded, moment between Jamie and his dad is pure agony — precisely because you can feel all the pain Jamie is feeling in that moment. Maybe not physically, but certainly that sense of loss and hopelessness.
More on Whelan
…this, though…is actually where Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×22 steps into problematic territory. Having Jamie survive the gunshot wound, only to find out he’s likely paralyzed and beg Bobby to let him go…is a choice. And not a good one. At all.
For Detective Whelan, who’s so used to having a very active lifestyle — both through his history of street racing and in law enforcement — there’s nothing wrong with grieving having that ripped away. Sometimes, when something completely outside our control takes away — or even just risks taking away — all the things we’re used to doing, and love doing, we might even wonder if it’s better to just…not have to live through that. To not be here anymore, always feeling that loss.
And I say this from experience, unfortunately. Not the exact same experience as Jamie Whelan, by any means…but I know what it’s like to mourn, and to feel lost, and — yes — to want to give up. To fear a future that is never-ending darkness, with all the things that make life worth living for you — personally, not in a general sense — slowly, or maybe even suddenly, just being stolen from you. I also know what it’s like to simply not know just how bad things will get, or how permanent they may or may not be. So, as difficult as the uncertainty is, it really is best to wait and see.
With that being said, I’ve also had people to talk to about this, both inside the disability community and away from it. There is a very, very fine line between ableism and what I’ve described above. And, to be blunt: The “it’s not a life” line, plus someone pulling that plug (whether that person’s Bobby or Jamie’s dad has been up for debate) instead of convincing Jamie to wait and see, goes way, way, way, way, way over the line. Furthermore, the false hope for survival is just needlessly cruel.
So, justice for every disabled person. And justice for Jamie Whelan.
The other point of contention here relates back to the way all those team members’ reactions are cut against Whatshisname shutting down his website and getting wheeled into his prison cell. If we’re going to give that part the most benefit of the doubt possible, it’s about how victory comes at a certain kind of cost. But, after the weird serial killer montage in “Shadowërk” and now this…well. It’s back to the original overall complaint: too much focus in the absolute worst place possible. No thanks. Never again, please and thank you.
Partners for life
And now, the clownery.
I’m so very pleasantly surprised by the EO developments in Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×22. Coming into this finale, with the images of Captain Benson being shot in the promo, I was convinced I was going to have to break down exactly why having a love confession in the middle of a tragedy isn’t the cute, fresh plot device folks may think it is. Especially not for Benson and Stabler. Then, there’s the issue of the season kicking off with Rollins’ shooting making her “realize things” or whatever, and like. Wow! Boring and repetitive!
But no, this, thankfully, isn’t that. And look: I’m never going to be happy with more trauma for Olivia Benson. Not after all these years. But the wound turns out to be a giant nothingburger, and the partnership of it all…ok, ok. As mentioned in the SVU finale writeup, it’s the Benson and Stabler partnership that’s always been the way “in” to this relationship. It’s where it all began, how they fell in love. And “With Many Names” absolutely captures that essence.
When Elliot can’t see, Olivia is his eyes; when she can’t pull herself up off that floor, he carries her.
(Bridal style, WTF! I hate them, actually. They are insufferable!!!) The action scene is excellent on a level that it has no business being, and the mutual trust between Detectives Benson and Stabler the captain and the detective is second to none. There is something about the physicality of it all, about the way Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni move together, that simply can’t be taught. Sure, you can choreograph everything they do in that scene, and any two capable actors can probably execute it well enough. But no, nobody will ever do it quite like them. It truly is a dance.
(Yes, my mind is going places with mentioning physicality, too. When EO finally…wow.)
But lest praising the action sequence may somehow imply that’s the best thing that happens in this finale for EO, or that anyone wants to see more injuries for the strongest of strong female characters, it bears repeating that Liv has been through enough. And, despite it turning out ok, this wasn’t necessary. At all.
But um. Anyway. Back to the fangirling.
This is also the first time, in a very long time, that Elliot has been able to step up for Olivia in the moment. She’s not alone, for once, in the aftermath of yet another potential near-death experience. Her partner’s waiting just outside the exam room door, ready to crack a joke about her ass as his way of checking on her without pushing too much. And, with no hesitation, she asks him for help getting off the table and reaches her arms out to him as she’s in the middle of asking. This, more than anything else — more than all the corny AF gift exchanges — is how I like my Benson and Stabler. They are partners; they can count on each other. And, most importantly of all, Olivia Benson trusts Elliot Stabler enough to be vulnerable with him and, arguably, him alone.
For all the missteps throughout this season, since Meloni’s initial return really — for both series! — this is a very good place to land. It continues seamlessly from the chapter immediately before it, and it doesn’t try to overcompensate. The narrative doesn’t go too far. At this point, dear reader, you’re probably like “WTF is a ‘too far’ for EO.” And I’ll say, “yeah. I’m sorry, but.” Because…I’m sorry, but a kiss in the aftermath of a shooting is much easier to explain away than one that comes, naturally, at some later date. One where all that partnership and trust is really solid like it is here, and there’s been some kind of conversation — offscreen, even! As long as there’s literally one line referencing that it occurred — about all the devastation of the decade apart.
Also “we almost killed the woman so she could earn a romantic hero” is, while fun in a lot of cases, just not good for my Liv. For El’s Liv, if you will. Captain Olivia Benson is no damsel in distress, and while she can be swept off her feet (literally — WTF!), that’s not her story. It’s not their story. And even if it ever could have been their story, the time for that sort of arc is long since past.
Now, when their time finally comes, here’s hoping we can let Olivia be really ready, not forced. And let neither of these two have doctor’s orders to avoid physical activity for two weeks.
…with all that being said, I look forward to the many alternate universe takes where that very clear moment in the clinic becomes…you know.
Have I mentioned I kind of hate them?
Where the Organized Crime 3×22 really both hits and misses the EO mark is in the end scene. First of all, they’re utterly adorable, in a “they’re the absolute worst” (fond) kind of way. It’s really nice getting to see Olivia smile so much, to banter with her giant 12-year-old of a
schoolgirl crush first boyfriend partner. And the “Live Love Laugh” getting turned into “Liv Love Laugh” is…Well, it’s corny and stupid. Which, actually, it’s perfect because of how absolutely corny and stupid it is. Elliot Stabler really is that. He has no game, has never had game probably, and Olivia can not get enough of it. Can not get enough of him.
The compass is super sweet and relates back to the idea of Olivia deserving happiness. Of course, we all know the compass should always point in the direction of her son, and all the success she’s had all these years, and — yes — the goofy bald man in the corner. It’s pretty clear, by the end of this finale, that she knows that, too. Now, she just has to work on really letting it in and embracing it.
The problems come with how Elliot leaves things. He’s…going to be away for a while again? So, we’re having a repeat of “we’re finally getting closer, and now I’m going to fuck off”? That’s…to paraphrase Liv’s description of herself in the SVU finale, a stale sandwich of a plot point. Yes, it’s important Elliot actually warns her this time. And yes, that acknowledgement from Liv is super sweet.
But, y’all…why. And also…how. This man continues to strain credulity with his work, considering the entire state of New York should recognize his big, bald head by now. But EO are also long, long, long, long, long overdue for discussing a ton of things. Not just that but just celebrating some small moments together, as well. More chats over Chinese food! Coffee dates, all that good stuff! And what about Noah? He gets attached easily, remember? And he’s already spent hours in the car with El after a very traumatic event.
The plan could change, especially with everything up in the air because of the not-insignificant issue of the WGA fighting for a fair deal. But even planting that nugget of doubt in viewers’ minds here is just silly. Assuming SVU gets a full 22 episodes with Organized Crime getting only 13, the right move would be to negotiate more time for Meloni to come make googly eyes at Hargitay for cash in a scene or two, here or there. Seriously, why put a stain on an otherwise beautiful moment, or really series of moments, in this season finale?
It’s frustrating that, even when this pairing gets very obvious steps forward, there are misguided steps back. Given who Liv is, and who El is, there’s plenty of room for keeping tension in the relationship without doing completely illogical things. It’s been way too many years of waiting, both for viewers and for the characters. No need to delay for the sake of delaying. Promise.
More on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×22
- No but WTF with the creepy dolls.
- This perp is the biggest, most bland stereotype. The angry music! Anime posters! *gasp* Video games. None of those things automatically mean you’re this kind of garbage. And none of them mean I’m going to care about him either.
- “They’re all liars. The worst part is, no one’s going to give a crap when they all die.”
- “I read somewhere that all pain is one malady with many names. And I think I know what those names are. They’re the names of everyone in the world.” AI probably couldn’t write this, so take care of your writers. But. Literally no one gives a shit what this guy knows, or how many pretty words he can say. Give the flowery language to Bell! Or Baldy! Jet! Anyone!!!
- While we’re at it: The hanging, the suicide note, adding Whelan basically committing suicide in…Add that to some of the scenes on SVU this season…Keep it. Or, at least, let’s all rally for trigger warnings for this just like we (unsuccessfully) did for a certain beast? No? Ok then.
- I do love an EO interrogation. God, they’re hot when they do these.
- Also hot. The hottest, actually: “Someone put a hit out on Captain Benson and myself.” Elliot put his girl first there! Fucking finally.
- The lean in, then the lean back…always so in sync.
- Speaking of that line and where it came from: The wedding ring stunt? Ghost!Kathy? Completely pointless, confirmed. Absolute waste. Makes Tia look like the best written subplot of the season. At least that resulted in the (obvious) line about there being someone Stabler’s in love with. Yikes.
- “Detective, you uh, feeling hangry?” When you try to maintain professionalism in front of the Feds but also want a date with your boyfriend before he starts punching things…
- …and then, this bald bitch starts flirting in public.
- “He went straight for Benson and Stabler.” He’s not special!
- Imagine if, instead of spending 24 hours on the sad boi, we got more of this really interesting and fun Bell/Fin stuff. Absolutely in love with them in interrogation together. It’s no Bell/Stabler (and certainly nothing’s EO), but this would be a very cool partnership to get to explore.
- No but if season 4 starts without getting back the great amount of Bell season 3 had for most of the year…
- Rollins is really good with the villain’s mom. Still kind of think it was a wasted opportunity, in terms of her return, overall? But eh. I’ll get murdered for saying so.
- Mariska. Ma’am. This is not a “draw me like one of your French girls” moment. Who asked you to pose like that?
- They’re sick for this entire scene. And uh. Liv’s eyes told a whole story of simultaneous terror and anticipation when El leaned in to hug her. Oh, she wants him. (Not special for that.)
- Her hand! On his chest! And it doesn’t leave when he gets that call!
- “How’s your ass feeling?”
- “Get me out of here?”
- “I couldn’t see anything. Heard that shot. I thought I’d lost you.” Meloni’s super quiet voice…is a lot.
- And um. “I can’t imagine what that brings up for you.” Captain, detect thyself. (Or whatever.) Stop worrying about him when you literally got shot, and also realize all it “brings up” is his fear of losing you before he ever fully has you. Dumbass. (I love her, though.)
- Elliot: *heart eyes intensify* Liv: *omgwtf*
- The sword thing…be real.
- “I never thought I’d be rooting for this guy to live.” “He can die after the site is down.” That Bell/Stabler partnership thrives, even Truitt and Meloni are given practically zilch to work with. Icons, actually.
- One™ medic, though? Come on.
- “Tell him we got the kid. Tell him we couldn’t have done that without him.” If there was something in your eye here, raise your hand.
- “For her, love isn’t a lie. She feels it in her heart. You wouldn’t know what that’s like.” Ayanna at this human excrement? Or me, yelling at the TV when Elliot inevitably lets Olivia down yet again? You decide.
- No, but what’s the point of the “I love you” from Jet.
- And also this: “Bro. You gotta let people care about you.” Great line, better delivery, wasted.
- Muncy’s just…going, huh? There’s an extended scene out there, which — again — deserved to air more than 239847389473 hours of sad crypto dude.
- So, almost losing Liv got Detective Dumbass “thinking again” about “how precious life is,” but he’s leaving anyway. Make it make sense.
- “You can always fix things.” Ok. Stick around then. And fix them.
- Ok but could we use this dorky gift as a way in to discuss…no? Right.
- Moar. Bell. Please.
Thoughts on Law & Order: Organized Crime 3×22 “With Many Names”? Leave us a comment!
Law & Order: Organized Crime is set to return to NBC in 2024. Now, all we need is a fair deal for writers, and…yeah. We’ll keep you posted.